Amex Points vs. Chase Points [2021]: Which Rewards are Most Worth the Effort?

Not sure how to choose between two of the most popular flexible points programs in the world of miles and points? Here’s what you need to know.
Last updated Jun 4, 2021 | By Ben Walker | Edited By Becca Borawski Jenkins
Amex Points vs. Chase Points: Which Rewards are Most Worth the Effort?

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Some of the most valuable points you can earn with credit cards are the points from American Express and Chase.

While airline miles and hotel points can be wonderful, they can generally only be redeemed through those brands. Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed in multiple ways giving you more flexibility and choices — and potentially more value.

But getting the most out of your points often means committing to one rewards program. When it comes to Amex points vs. Chase points, how do you choose?

In this article, we'll compare these two popular rewards programs to help you choose which one is right for you.

In this article

Amex points vs. Chase points

When comparing Amex points vs. Chase points, there are many similarities, including pooling points, flexible redemptions, and bonuses in certain spending categories. But just as taking the time to compare credit cards can help you pick the right one, so can taking the time to compare and contrast the rewards programs from these two credit card issuers.

American Express Membership Rewards Points

Amex Membership Rewards are the flexible points earned by many personal and business cards from American Express. These cards typically earn a base of 1 point per $1 spent, with some Amex cards earning bonus points based on where you make your purchases. If you have multiple personal or business Amex cards, all of your Membership Rewards points are combined into one pool of points.

You can redeem points in numerous ways, including booking travel through American Express Travel, transferring to airline or hotel partners, gift cards, and statement credits. In general, redeeming points for gift cards, statement credits, and online shopping offer the lowest redemption values for Amex points. You can book flights, upgrades, and Fine Hotels & Resorts through Amex Travel at 1 cent per point. Generally, you can find the best value by transferring your points to a travel partner to book an award reservation.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards is also a flexible points program that allows cardholders to earn and redeem points in many ways. You can earn Ultimate Rewards points through select Chase credit cards, by shopping through its portal (cardholders only), and with limited-time offers from certain Chase banking and lending products.

There are eight personal and small business credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. Although several Chase credit cards are marketed as cashback, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, they actually earn Ultimate Rewards points.

Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, cash back, and online shopping at a value of up to 1 cent per point. When you have certain rewards credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points can be redeemed for up to 1.5 cents per point for travel and transferred to airline and hotel partners.

Now let’s look at these points systems head to head.

How much are they worth?

According to feedback from our community, Amex points and Chase points are both worth an average of 2 cents each. Your experience will vary depending upon how you redeem them through the issuer or with their respective partners. Each bank offers numerous options for redemption, and the values for each method vary.

This chart breaks down the potential value you can expect to receive based on which redemption options you choose. Remember that you don't have to redeem all your points at once, and you can select multiple methods of redeeming points.

Average value per point Amex Chase
Cash back 0.6 cents 1 cent
Pay Yourself Back N/A Up to 1.5 cents
Booking travel 0.5 to 1 cents 1 to 1.5 cents
Transfer partners 2 cents 2 cents
Online shopping 0.5 to 1 cents 0.8 cents
Gift cards Up to 1 cent 1 cent

Transfer partners

Amex and Chase have multiple airline and hotel transfer partners that allow you to convert your flexible points into the airline miles and hotel points in their loyalty programs. Transfers allow you to book reservations for a potentially higher value than you would get by booking travel using your points like cash.

The table below shows the current travel partners for each program. You'll notice some overlap, but the majority of the partners are exclusive to each card issuer. Many travelers pick the flexible points they want to earn based on their favorite airline and hotel loyalty brands.

Amex Chase
Airline partners 18 10
Hotel partners 3 3
Total partners 21 13
Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air France KLM
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Hawaiian
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Qantas
  • Singapore
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air France KLM
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore
  • Southwest
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic
Hotels programs
  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • World of Hyatt
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Travel portals

Amex and Chase let you book travel with cash, points, or a combination of the two through their travel portals. Each portal has its pros and cons that you should factor in when booking travel.

Amex Travel

When booking with Amex Travel, the value of your points depends on what type of reservation you are trying to make. Points are worth 0.7 cents each when booking prepaid hotel rooms, prepaid car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages. Flights, flight upgrades, and Fine Hotels & Resorts reservations are worth 1 cent each. You cannot book tours, Airbnb, shuttles, or other types of travel reservations with your points.

Fine Hotels & Resorts is an exclusive program available to Amex Platinum cardmembers. These reservations include perks similar to those you get by having elite status in hotel loyalty programs, such as early check-in, room upgrades, and daily complimentary breakfast for two.

When booking with cash, certain Amex credit cards earn bonus points when using Amex Travel to make your reservations. For example, the Amex Platinum Card earns 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal

Through the Chase travel portal, you can book flights, hotels and vacation rentals, rental cars, cruises, activities, and more. The value of your points ranges from 1 cent to 1.5 cents, depending upon which credit card you have. Reservations can be paid for with points, cash, or a combination of the two.

When booking travel reservations in cash through the portal, you'll earn rewards based on the card you use to pay for the trip. For example, if you paid with the Chase Freedom Flex, you'll earn 5% back on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Pooling and transferring points

No matter how many personal or small business American Express cards you have, all your points are automatically pooled into one account. This allows you to easily combine points for larger purchases and redemptions. Plus, if one of your accounts is closed, you will not lose any of the points in your pool.

Chase allows points to be pooled, but you have to transfer them between accounts manually. Whichever card holds the points determines their value and the available redemption options. For example, points earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited are worth 1 cent through the Chase portal and cannot be transferred to a Chase partner. However, when those points are transferred to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred, partner transfer options become available, and you can book travel through Chase at up to 1.50 cents per point.

The best cards to earn Amex Membership Rewards

American Express offers many personal and small business cards that earn Membership Rewards points. Here are some of the best American Express cards:

Many of these cards offer enhanced earnings in select categories and valuable perks and benefits to cardholders. Some Amex cards have no annual fee, while others have annual fees as high as $595 per year.

Welcome bonuses are a way to quickly earn a massive amount of Membership Rewards points. For example, here is the current welcome offer for the Amex Platinum: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10X points on purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets for first 6 months (on up to $15,000 combined).

The American Express Gold Card is also very popular because it earns 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. It also features an attractive bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in first 6 months after account opening. Terms apply.

Big Rewards for Dining Out

Benefits

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months
  • Rose gold is back! Choose your color.
  • $120 in dining credits
  • $120 in Uber Cash
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees

The best cards to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase offers a variety of personal and small business credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points. Here are the most popular:

These cards range from no-annual-fee cashback cards to luxury travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which comes with premium benefits and a luxury price tag.

Chase credit cards primarily earn Ultimate Rewards points in two ways: the one-time sign-up bonus and spending. One-time bonuses when you first apply can offer substantial rewards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the best travel credit cards and is currently offering a bonus of 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in first 3 months. This bonus is worth up to $1,250 when used to book travel.

The Chase Freedom Flex is an excellent $0 annual fee card for everyday purchases. It earns 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases.

New, Higher Sign Up Bonus - Worth $1250 Toward Travel

Benefits

  • Best offer ever! 100,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Which is right for you: Amex points vs. Chase points

When deciding between Amex points vs. Chase points, the "right" choice will be personal, based on your lifestyle, spending, and travel habits. Here’s a concise list of pros and cons so you can consider which program could be the best fit for you:

Pros of Amex points

  • Automatically combine points from multiple cards into one bucket
  • Transfer to 18 airline and 3 hotel transfer partners
  • Occasional transfer bonus promotions
  • Pay With Points at checkout at Amazon, PayPal, and others
  • Points do not expire

Cons of Amex points

  • Partner transfer ratios vary by airline and hotel
  • Poor redemption value for cash back, online shopping, and gift cards
  • Once per lifetime rule on welcome bonuses

Pros of Chase points

  • Transfer 1:1 to 10 airline and 3 hotel transfer partners
  • Earn bonus points through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal
  • Worth up to 50% more for travel and Pay Yourself Back
  • Cashback option is 1 cent per point
  • Points do not expire

Cons of Chase points

FAQs

Are Amex points worth more than Chase points?

According to our community, both Amex points and Chase points are worth 2 cents per point on average. The value you receive varies based on how you use the points. Redeeming points for cash, gift cards, and merchandise typically returns the lowest value. Booking travel or transferring points to partners for premium cabin flights or luxury hotel stays can offer the highest value for your rewards.

What is better: Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum are both premium travel credit cards that offer appealing benefits to frequent travelers, such as airport lounge access, transferable points, and bonus points on certain travel purchases. They both also give you an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The Chase Sapphire Reserve's annual travel credits and bonus categories are less restrictive, which gives it an edge to some travelers. Which one is better for you depends on which bonus categories you spend the most and which transfer partners you favor. Select benefits require enrollment.

Is Amex or Visa better?

Retailers around the world widely accept both American Express and Visa. However, Amex isn't accepted at every store due to the higher fees it charges retailers for processing transactions. That being said, according to American Express, its cards are accepted at 99% of the stores that accept credit cards as a form of payment.


Bottom line

American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are both top-rated rewards programs. Cardholders love how they can earn these points with multiple credit cards and combine their points balances for larger redemptions. Both of these programs are winners with some of the best credit cards on the market. The choice of which program you focus on should be a personal decision based on how you prefer to earn and redeem your rewards and which transfer partners you like better.

The good thing is you don't have to choose just one. Instead of thinking about Amex points vs. Chase points, you could choose to earn both to take advantage of the sweet spots in both loyalty programs and maximize your spending, rewards, and benefits.

Best Luxury Travel Benefits

Benefits

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months
  • 10X points on purchases at U.S. gas stations and supermarkets
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $15 in free U.S. Uber rides each month ($20 in December)
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • $550 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees

Author Details

Ben Walker Ben Walker is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially-sound decisions. For nearly a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.